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Government announces new funding for social prescribing.


Social prescriptions, including walking, wheeling and cycling, will be offered by GPs as part of a new trial to improve mental and physical health and reduce disparities across the country, the government has announced on 22 August 2022.

The government has awarded £12.7 million in multi-year funding to 11 local authority areas in England. The funding will go towards several pilot projects in each location, including:

  • adult cycle training

  • free bike loans

  • walking groups

Other schemes include all-ability cycling taster days where people who may not have cycled before can try to in a friendly environment, or walking and cycling mental health groups where people can connect with their communities as they get active.

The pilots must be delivered alongside improved infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle and walk.


Walking and Cycling Minister, Trudy Harrison, said:  

‘’Walking and cycling has so many benefits – from improving air quality in our communities to reducing congestion on our busiest streets. It also has an enormous positive impact on physical and mental health, which is why we have funded these projects which will get people across the country moving and ease the burden on our NHS.’’


Minister for Health, Maria Caulfield, said:

‘’Getting active is hugely beneficial for both our mental and physical health – helping reduce stress and ward off other illness such as heart disease and obesity.


The UK is leading the way in embedding social prescribing in our NHS and communities across the country. We’ve already exceeded our target to ensure over 900,000 people are referred to social prescribing schemes by 2023-24 and this pilot will help us identify further schemes to reduce disparities and boost mental and physical wellbeing across the country’’


The pilots will be delivered between 2022 and 2025 with on-going monitoring and evaluation to support continued learning.


The project is bringing together a range of government departments and agencies including:

  • NHS England

  • Office for Health Improvement and Disparities

  • Sport England

  • National Academy for Social Prescribing

  • Defra

  • Department for Health and Social Care

Whilst Somerset is not one the government’s 11 trial areas of the UK, we already have Somerset Sports and Activity Partnership (SASP) championing walking and cycling for health and well-being here in Somerset. SASP co-ordinates Somerset Health Walks across the County and have recently launched the Move More Together programme, designed to encourage inactive adults over 50 to become more active. Participants will be matched with a volunteer who they will meet with regularly on a one-to-one basis, and who will support them to take their first steps towards being more active and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, SASP reports that the UK population has never been less active. In 2019, a quarter of UK adults were already classed as inactive (source: ukactive), a number which has since increased, as the pandemic forced millions to work from home and options for exercise were limited. As restrictions have eased, many older adults are keen to become more active again, but access and confidence remain significant barriers.

Move More Together volunteers can accompany participants with various activities, such as home-based exercise, going for a walk locally or trying out an exercise class. Activities can vary from week to week, and volunteers will be aware that flexibility is key to finding an activity that is suitable for sometimes unpredictable health conditions.


Lianne Clarke, Active Ageing Manager at Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership, said: "The pandemic has impacted many people's health and well-being but the enforcement of shielding has meant that a significant proportion of older adults are now finding getting back to physical activity particularly challenging. Whether it's because of a physical decline or a loss of confidence, Move More Together hopes to address these issues and give people the encouragement and flexibility to take those first steps again."


Become a Move More Together volunteer today!

If you would like to learn more about how you can be involved, either as a participant or volunteer, please contact Jenny Street, Volunteering Project Officer on jstreet@sasp.co.uk or call 01823 653990.


For further information on the programme, visit the Move More Together webpage.


Nether Stowey Health Walks

Here in Nether Stowey we run a weekly health walks programme for local residents, in conjuction with the Quantock Medical Centre. We meet every Tuesday morning and go for a gentle one and a half to two hours walk in and around Nether Stowey and neighbouring villages and up in the Quantock Hills. All our walk leaders are fully trained by SASP under the Somerset Health Walks programme.


You can pick up our monthly timetable of walks from the Quantock Medical Centre or

e-mail: enquiries@stoweywalking.co.uk. for more information.

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